Get on the Right Track with a Benefits Communication Firm

Get on the Right Track with a Benefits Communication Firm

This is the second of a two-part series. Read the first installment here.

After reading part one, hopefully you understand the value of investing in employee benefits communications and how to create a budget. The good news is you don’t have to wing it or leave benefits communications to chance. You can get help with high level strategy and planning and with executing those plans. A benefits communication firm can put you on the right track.

Yes, a benefits communication firm can be more expensive than creating communications in-house or outsourcing to a general communications firm. The value is in the expertise. Benefits communicators understand the complexities of benefits. They also understand communication best practices and they know the most effective way to share your messages. Your benefits communication team can create customized solutions that match your unique goals to your budget.

Outsourcing Helps Your Team

It’s not surprising that many human resource professionals are challenged by how to invest their dollars for maximum impact. With limited internal resources, they’re looking to get the most bang for their buck. It makes sense, then, when it comes to benefits communications, they’d partner with specialists who know how to get the job done. These firms work with impact and efficiency because it’s what they do every single day.

There are so many reasons to outsource your benefits communications to proven experts. For one, they’re trained professionals in the area. For another, outsourcing frees your internal team to focus on other, equally important tasks and initiatives. All of which contributes to savings over the long run.

Here are 3 questions to ask when engaging with a benefits communication firm:

  1. Do they understand benefits? Can they work with your external vendors to convey messages appropriately? Will they use the right media mix and get you the most bang for your buck?
  2. Can they provide you comprehensive services? That includes collaboration with other providers and stakeholders, as well as your internal team. They should conduct a communications audit; develop an employee-listening program; develop and implement a branding program and identify an overall effective strategy. A benefits communication firm should execute that strategy with writing, research, design, measurement, production, translation and other services that yield results.
  3. Does their pricing align with your needs and expectation? Does the cost match the overall market for similar services? Are they willing to be transparent? Is everything a la carte, or are they willing to create packages? When you go into pricing conversations be realistic about what communications cost and the time and resources involved.

Get the Most from Partnership

Once you’ve engaged with a benefits communication firm, what can you expect? A worthy communications partner will conduct a thorough needs assessment. This allows you to work together to set tangible goals for internal communication. You’ll work together on strategies, tactics, messaging, media, measures, and a timeline for achieving them. They’ll help drive actionable communications that give your employees they information need to make good benefits choices year round. Then you can focus on other business.

Here are 3 tips for getting the most out of collaboration with a benefits communication firm:

  1. Know when you need help. For example, you may need help promoting Open Enrollment, a new Consumer Driven Health Plan, a wellness program, or a change to your health plans or processes as a result of merger or acquisition. These are all good opportunities to get messaging out to employees. Be honest about what you need and how much you have to spend.
  2. Don’t worry about “solving the problem.” Share as much information as you can with your partner about your challenge and your overall objective. You may be certain you need a specific piece [newsletter, video, mailing to home] to achieve your goal. But many times something entirely different would work best. Trust the benefits communication firm to figure out the best how to get you where you want to go.
  3. Spend time planning and reviewing materials. After all, you are the ultimate subject matter expert regarding your company and employees. You and your communications vendor are partners, working together to achieve the desired results.

Collaboration across internal and external teams is essential for success. A trusted partnership with outside experts can give your communications a fresh perspective that leads to actionable outcomes.

 

 

Sharon Tucker

Written by Sharon Tucker

Sharon is an experienced marketing and communications professional who specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies. She enjoys the process of strategizing and implementing communication solutions that maximize the opportunity to educate, motivate and empower employees to make the right benefits decision for their family’s needs.

Trion Communications sharon.tucker@trion-mma.com

Why You Need to Invest in Benefits Communications

Why You Need to Invest in Benefits Communications

This is the first of a two-part series. Check back Wednesday for the second installment.

How well do you communicate with employees? Do you give them information to help them choose their benefits? What about using those benefits throughout the year? Do they understand cost-effective ways to get the quality services they need?

If you’ve answered “not well” or “no” to any of these questions—or you’re not sure—it might be time to rethink your benefits communications. How well employees understand and use their benefits dictates how well they view you as an employer.

 Communications Equals Perception

A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows health benefits achieve strategic business goals. That includes attracting, retaining and engaging talent, and improving productivity, among others. Yet without investing in benefits communications, can your employees understand the benefits you offer?

According to the MetLife U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Survey, less than half of employees “strongly agree” benefits communications help them understand how much services cost. That uncertainty can make them think your company doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

When it comes to communicating effectively, the stakes are high. Forty percent of employees believe benefits communications are easy to understand. That leaves a lot of employees scratching their heads.

Employees aren’t the only ones struggling. You might relate to our clients, who wonder how to distribute messages in a way that supports workers and reaches them where they are (in the field, at home, at their cubicle, etc.).

Set Your Budget

It’s important to plan ahead. You need to create a dedicated budget for your employee benefits communications.  Thirty-eight percent of member organizations in the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans have a specific benefits communication budget. Communications made up three to ten percent of the total spent on benefits. Only you can determine the size of your budget.

Once you decide how much to invest in benefits communications, consider your business goals. Is it educating employees during open enrollment? Is it introducing a new benefit? Is it increasing participation in voluntary benefits?

Think strategically about how to allocate money for optimal results. Will a printed and mailed-to-homes guide give you the best return on investment? Is investing in a social media strategy a smart bet? Would your employees be more receptive to educational videos?

Conduct a communications audit to examine what worked in the past. Create a simple survey of your employees to ask their communications preferences. Compare to actions. Did that email campaign lead to increased enrollment in critical illness insurance? Did more people use the EAP after receiving an informational postcard?  Don’t forget to rely on providers for help. Communication materials from carriers can stretch your budget and let you devote time and money to the programs that need an extra boost.

Yes, communication about employee benefits is an investment. But that investment is a smart financial decision that can positively impact your bottom line.

Sharon Tucker

Written by Sharon Tucker

Sharon is an experienced marketing and communications professional who specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies. She enjoys the process of strategizing and implementing communication solutions that maximize the opportunity to educate, motivate and empower employees to make the right benefits decision for their family’s needs.

Trion Communications sharon.tucker@trion-mma.com

How to Create an Authentic Employee Recognition Program

How to Create an Authentic Employee Recognition Program

Do you have an employee recognition program? If so, you’re in good company. According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management/Globoforce study of 738 human resources professionals, 80 percent of organizations do as well. Fifty-six percent said their program has a positive impact on recruitment and 68 percent praised its value for retention.

With those benefits in mind, it makes sense to promote your employee recognition program internally. After all, employees want to be praised. Praise yields higher productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. A study by Cicero found recognition to be the most important driver of employee performance. At 37 percent it ranked higher than increased pay or promotions.

As with many programs, communications is the key for success. Messaging should be clear. It’s important to make sure key stakeholders are on board from the start. Doing so shows high-performers that you’re paying attention. It also engages and informs your staff around the idea that employees are valued for their contributions.

Here are five ideas on how you can communicate the value of work well done.

1. Create a Brand for your Employee Recognition Program

Branding your program adds credibility. Employees are more likely to view content branded from the company versus content branded from your carriers, says a study from Prudential. The brand of your employee recognition program should connect staff with what you need them to think, feel and do have a successful program. Once your brand is in place and recognizable, your employee will want to be a part of the program.

A brand is a look and feel that is unique to your company. It could be as simple as a catchy tag line or a logo that connects employees with the vision and values of your employee recognition program. Incorporate the brand in emails, posters, publications, postcards, employee handbook, company branded website, videos, webinars, intranet, etc. Communicate about the employee recognition program often. Repetition is the key to retention.

2. Publicize your Employee Recognition Program

Make it easy for people to get involved or apply to the employee recognition program. Help them to understand what’s required to earn recognition and how they can be successful. Highlight examples of past high achievers and invite employees to share their stories.

Announce employee recognition activities in team meetings. Keep communications consistent and as frequent as possible. This will keep the program front and center for all employees.

3. Provide Tangible Rewards

Inspire managers to personally recognize employees for their efforts. Employees often keep personalized company-branded plaques and certificates on their desks or walls. Those materials may inspire their co-workers.

Your employee recognition program may include monetary rewards, like cash or gift cards. Other rewards include extra time off, tickets to sporting events, accessories like watches or new electronics like headphones or tablets.

Pair all rewards with thank you notes. Research out of Harvard Business School found authentic thank you’s from leaders motivate employees. 180 employees watched short videos that personally thanked them for contributions. Compared to a control group that didn’t watch videos, those employees had a 7 percent increase in performance.

4. Showcase Success Stories

Employees love to read about their colleagues – and to be inspired by them. That’s why it’s great to showcase those high-performers who make a difference. Feature them in organizational publications, on intranets, and other media as appropriate.

Schedule a specific day each month to launch and broadcast these communications. Create social gatherings to promote your employee recognition program. For example, every third Wednesday is employee recognition day.  Your company can provide snacks in a common area. The tangible rewards, mentioned above, can be distributed in front of colleagues. Seeing their peers lauded may encourage other workers to put forth extra effort.

5. Get Leadership Sponsorship

Employees like the continued support of upper management. Yet, a Gallup poll of over 30,000 workers showed only one-third received praise for a job well done over the past week.

Have leaders promote your employee recognition program so employees know management is on board. This helps the employees understand that the company is invested in their growth and recognizes their contributions.

Make sure your employee recognition program is honest, authentic and aligns with your company’s values.

 

 

Sharon Tucker

Written by Sharon Tucker

Sharon is an experienced marketing and communications professional who specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies. She enjoys the process of strategizing and implementing communication solutions that maximize the opportunity to educate, motivate and empower employees to make the right benefits decision for their family’s needs.

Trion Communications sharon.tucker@trion-mma.com

Why Do I Need Identity Theft Protection Benefits?

Why Do I Need Identity Theft Protection Benefits?

We hear stories every day about the perils of identity theft. It can not only impact a person’s credit, but in some cases, their entire lives.

ID theft is not an isolated incident. In fact, identity theft was the number one complaint consumers made to the Federal Trade Commission for 15 consecutive years.

Do you offer your employees a robust identity theft protection plan as part of their benefits package? About 36% of companies offer some form of ID theft protection services as an employee benefit. This voluntary benefit is a great way to distinguish you as an employer who cares. Employees have a sense of security when they know they have a plan to protect their finances and future.

If enrollment in this benefit is not as robust as it could be, maybe it’s time to beef up your communications.

Promote the Need for Identity Theft Protection

Your employees may have questions about identity theft protection services. What exactly is ID theft? How is it different from credit card fraud? Why do I need ID theft protection? Communications should seek to solve these concerns.

Lay out the stakes. Credit card fraud is a quick and deliberate attack that’s solved with a phone call to the credit card company. Identify theft is more complicated since it’s designed to duplicate a person’s identity. The thief’s goal is to take as much as they can until they are caught. If employees are not protected by a solid ID theft plan, they could potentially lose everything

In today’s world, most hackers launch network attacks where they attempt to crack weak passwords. Add to the benefit and point employees in the direction of training to learn about safe data management practices. These include the use of strong passwords and the avoidance of suspicious email links and websites.

Communicate About ID Theft Protection During Open Enrollment

During open enrollment, your employees feel overwhelmed as they try to navigate through all the options.  After learning about their other benefits, they might not have the bandwidth to process more information. Identity theft protection is usually an employee-paid benefit. So, use your communications to emphasize its worth.

Make it easy with targeted pieces of information about ID theft protection services. Lay out what the benefit entails and why it makes sense. Recovering from identity theft is a stressful process that takes time and money. A protection plan assists with some of the associated costs. These can include phone bills and postage, notary fees, costs of obtaining credit reports, and maybe legal fees. Of course, each carrier’s benefits will differ.

Carriers will have resources you can mine for data, so why make more work for yourself? Use those materials for source information and to answer common questions. Attach downloadable fact sheets to videos, place flyers in gathering spaces like lunchrooms and copy rooms and ask managers to distribute materials in meetings.

Engage with Real-Life Stories About the Value of ID Theft Protection

Engage employees with real-life scenarios that show the benefit in action. Stories add credibility behind the value of the ID theft protection benefit and create connections. Employees love to read about their co-workers and how the company’s benefits make a difference in their lives. Use stories throughout your various communications— newsletters, videos, even posters with pictures.

Helping employees stay safe and secure and protect their personal information is a great service. Thorough communications help employees appreciate the value of this benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Tucker

Written by Sharon Tucker

Sharon is an experienced marketing and communications professional who specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies. She enjoys the process of strategizing and implementing communication solutions that maximize the opportunity to educate, motivate and empower employees to make the right benefits decision for their family’s needs.

Trion Communications sharon.tucker@trion-mma.com

Consider Employee Wellness in the New Year

Consider Employee Wellness in the New Year

Happy New Year! It’s time to prepare for a new journey for our well-being, both physically and mentally.

Well-being is encouraging myself and others to be remarkable, mindful, and live with a purpose. So, I’ll jump on my soap box and shout to the world: “Hey! Does your company support a wellness program for its employees?”

Well, if they don’t, I challenge you to stand on your soap box and get involved this year. Take ownership of your and your co-workers’ well-being. Create an employee wellness movement that drives change.

Drive Change

It’s time corporations listen and take interest not only in employees’ medical expenses, but in their whole person—productivity, engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction.

Create a friendly, comfortable, open environment for your employees to develop a wellness movement. Your goal should be fostering a culture that is engaged, focused, and enthusiastic about living with a purpose.

Health care costs are going up every year. By incorporating robust wellness programs into your benefits plan, you encourage employees to take control of preventable diseases. Did you know that according to Health Affairs Magazine, workplace wellness programs support the prevention of cardiovascular disease?

It’s simple to create an employee wellness movement within your company. Remember listen . . . create . . . inspire . . . reward.

Listen

Develop a comprehensive survey to evaluate your employees’ understanding of how wellness affects every moment of their lives, at home and at work. Pose questions which are personal and caring. Ask how they would like to improve their health and professional development. Engage management to create a safe environment for your colleagues to get involved.

Create

Your employees are hungry for health and wellness information. According to the Pew Trust Research Center, 35% of adults have gone online to find information on a medical condition.

Create employee wellness communications to educate, engage, and motivate. All communications should be targeted and multi-channeled with their frequency and placement.

Programs can start small, then grow into movements that drive behavioral change, enrich lives, and create productive, satisfied employees. Here is a case study on an insurance company that started a small wellness program and embraced the benefits of creating a culture of wellness.

Inspire

Your employees work hard. Promote wellness by designing a work environment that drives behavioral change. A targeted, robust employee wellness program will inspire co-workers at every level. You will begin to hear chatter of wellness achievements and increases in behavioral change. These are the start of the benefits of a wellness movement.

Reward

Reward your colleagues for reaching their goals with caring and meaningful incentives. You will begin to see a community that recognizes success and celebrates each other. Your colleagues will come to work more productive, enthusiastic, engaged, and healthier. These are the benefits of educating and inspiring your colleagues into a culture of well-being. You did it! It’s an employee wellness movement.

The bottom line is, don’t just focus on the financial part of your benefits. Focus on the whole person. At Trion Communications, we have the tools to help create an employee wellness movement within your company. For more information please call or click to speak to one of our communication experts. We will help you get on your soap box and create a culture of well-being.

Remember to be remarkable, be well, be mindful, and live with a purpose.

 

Sharon Tucker

Written by Sharon Tucker

Sharon is an experienced marketing and communications professional who specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies. She enjoys the process of strategizing and implementing communication solutions that maximize the opportunity to educate, motivate and empower employees to make the right benefits decision for their family’s needs.

Trion Communications sharon.tucker@trion-mma.com